11 Jul 2023

Pacific news in brief for July 11

2:53 pm on 11 July 2023
Solomon Islands and China flags together

Solomons Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is in China this week. Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged economic and technical aid for Solomon Islands. Photo: 123RF

Solomon Islands/China - support

China's President Xi Jinping has pledged economic and technical aid for Solomon Islands, with "no political preconditions".

President Xi said China supports more Chinese enterprises to invest in Solomon Islands, the South China Morning Post reported.

He met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Beijing on Monday.

The pair also announced the setting up of a "comprehensive strategic partnership" and signed a joint statement for "mutual respect and co-development".

Sogavare, who led the switch of diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing four years ago, will also open his country's embassy in Beijing later this week.

He said China is "a reliable partner for development".

Papua New Guinea - allegations

A Papua New Guinea public servant is being investigated for allegedly paying himself one million kina, or about $US272,000 dollars, over the past fortnight.

The Post Courier reported the Health Minister Lino Tom confirming the allegations.

The matter came to light when staff at the National Capital District Provincial Health Authority complained about not being paid in that fortnight period.

Dr Tom said the National Department of Health audit team has been ordered to start recouping the funds and initiating criminal proceedings against the manager.

Papua New Guinea - trial

The trial is underway in Papua New Guinea for an MP charged with wilful murder last year.

The Northwest Moresby MP Lohia Boe Samuel is accused, alongside Fabian Hera, of the murder of Robert Jerry in a Port Moresby restaurant in March last year.

Jerry was an election campaign co-ordinator for Samuel.

Police have alleged that the men were having a meal together when an argument ensued and the shooting occurred, the Post Courier reported.

American Samoa - wind farm

Steady progress is being made on a 42-megawatt wind farm in American Samoa.

Tutuila Wind Energy is installing equipment to record wind data, and by next month are set to be drilling holes for a geotechnical study.

KHJ News reported it had received a briefing from two officials from the energy company.

According to the officials, the project has received the support of leading chiefs of A'oloau and Auma, whose lands are included in the project site.

It would be two years before any construction begins on the wind farm itself.

The officials said there would be another community meeting before any major work is carried out.

Tutuila Wind Energy has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with the American Samoa Power Authority.

Financing for the $100 million project will be on the company's docket.

Fiji - government

The Fiji government is set to provide a feedback system for its people.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said the government will continue to encourage genuine criticism, in the hope everyone can work together for the benefit of the people and the nation, FBC News reported.

Rabuka said the system would allow people to share directly with the government.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Inia Seruiratu has raised concern about the National budget, labelling some of the allocations as "not of priority" and believes they should be reconsidered.

Seruiratu said one was the University of the South Pacific grant as he believes that a proper investigation should be done at the institution.

He said the $5 million allocated to the Public Works Department could also be redeployed elsewhere as the Fiji Military were engineers were ready to take over the responsibility.